When I decided to come back to Kenya – I thought I had figured it all out. I had been away for too long, got home sick and depression was playing games with my head making me completely confused as to whether I should return or not. But, I packed some bags and I left.
I find out now, that what I thought I knew – I know nothing at all. Life in the fast world is in many ways different from Africa.
Individuals change without realising it and every second counts. Almost everything is quantified by minutes and seconds. One gets used to a schedule and it is relatively possible to tell what you will be doing tomorrow and what you will be having.
The culture too is so different and changing is involuntary. The analogy I use for my experience moving between continents is this.
Imagine you have gone fishing with friends on a small boat and you are all relaxed and hoping to catch bait, then you feel a tug on the line and start pulling but the fish seems to be too big to reel in, you decide to jump in and catch that fish yourself —your friends pensively watch and when you jump in, all you can see is that big fish getting away but you are determined not to let it go, you swim and swim and when you catch it you emerge on the other side covered in oil; look back at your friends smiling, but your friends look at you differently.
You are smeared in oil but you just do not know it. You think you never left, yet, you have been swimming for years experiencing so many convoluted things in your mind but you do not realise it.
When one decides to go back home and embark on their business venture please keep this in mind. Your plan means nothing. You have to be on the ground to really know what goes on and how it goes on.
Ask as many questions as you can to as many people as you can, but before starting out make sure you do everything yourself. Do not trust anyone and at the same time do not harm anyone.
Your patience will be tried many times and it takes extra strength not to give up. If you struggle with patience, you will hurt on a daily basis and for a long time. You get used to everything happening so fast out there, that it takes mental strength to sit back and relax.
Remember you are smiling back smeared in oil and the people you left back do not understand what is going on in your head and they do not know why you have changed; try as hard as you can to control your temper as it is easy for your heart to grow weary because you too, do not understand why you are not being understood.
Change is the hardest thing to deal with for anybody no matter how much we have to embrace it. In fact, studies in the US state that depression is caused by change in profession, moving or death. It is equivalent to starting your life all over again. You started it where you were born, started it again when you left your birth country and will start it again when you decide to go back.
Make a point of coming back on a regular basis to do your homework on what you would like to embark on.
Practice humility, it is tough and it will only gets tougher when you think you know it all. Come back expecting expectation altering lessons on how it is done.
If you have a good network tell them what you are going through and try make them understand, some people change in less than a year— so, the longer you are out there, the more you will have changed culturally, mentally and physically too.
They say home is where the heart is and east or west home is always best as long as you stick to your integrity and honesty in all the business you conduct no matter what you are presented with.
Abraham Lincoln on his job could not have been clearer when he said “I desire so to conduct the affairs of this administration, that if at the end, I have lost every other friend on earth, I shall at least have one friend and that friend shall be down inside me.”
Ms Munywoki is the director of Business Sense Africa.